EEOC Files Religious Discrimination Suit Against Food Lion

Title IV of the Civil Rights Act prohibits private companies from discrimination based on religious practices. While we often hear about discrimination based on race, national origin, or gender, cases less common are based on religious discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Food Lion, the national supermarket chain, for religious discrimination. According to the complaint, the company fired a Jehovah’s Witness who requested days off for religious practices.

prayReligious discrimination occurs anytime an employee or applicant for a person is treated differently because of his or her beliefs. Our Orange County religious discrimination attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individual employees who have suffered from discrimination in the workplace. We will take the time to review your case, identify misconduct or unlawful discrimination, and pursue compensation and a fair resolution on your behalf. Our priority is to raise awareness to prevent future discrimination and to help victims protect their rights against employers.

Federal law protects both individuals who belong to traditional organized religion, including Christianity or Judaism, as well as those who have sincere religious or moral beliefs. Discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is treated differently because of a connection with a religious organization or group. In the case against Food Lion, the EEOC alleges that the company illegally discriminated against an employee who was a minister and elder. According to the complaint, the employee requested Sundays and Thursdays off to practice his religion. While his managers accommodated this request, he was then transferred to another location where he was not given Sundays off and was subsequently terminated from his position. The EEOC is pursuing the lawsuit to collect back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages from the company.

Any employment action that arises from religious discrimination is illegal. Hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, benefits, or other condition of employment related to religious beliefs or practices is illegal. The law prohibits any company from making employment decisions based on religion. The law also protects employees from harassment, including offensive remarks or other actions that create a hostile work environment. In any case, victims can take legal action when they have suffered harassment or discrimination by a supervisor or a co-worker. Third-party cases may arise if an individual has suffered harassment or discrimination by a client or customer.

In addition to the prohibition of religious discrimination and harassment, the law also protects employees from segregation. Employers cannot assign an employee a certain position because of a feared customer preference based on religion. Employers must reasonably accommodate employee’s religious beliefs or practices. In accordance with federal law and EEOC guidelines, employers must make adjustments to the work environment so that an employee may practice his or her religion. Reasonable accommodations include flexible scheduling and modifications to meet the religious needs and practices of the employee. In this case, Food Lion was responsible for ensuring that his employee had necessary days off to practice his religion. The company may be responsible for back pay as well as additional compensation.

Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 949.375.4734.

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